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Update on COVID-19 Relief Efforts in Washington, D.C.

First, we are one significant step closer to seeing the COVID bill move through budget reconciliation. The House and Senate both passed budget resolutions on Friday which included reconciliation instructions for Congressional Committees to now draft legislation with all of the specific policy items to be included in the bill. The House Financial Services Committee was allocated $75 billion to use for statutory changes within its purview. The Committee will mark up its bill on Wednesday, February 10. Here is what will be in it:

  • $10 billion for Defense Production Act spending.
  • $25 billion for Emergency Rental Assistance.
    • $19.05 billion goes to Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and utility assistance efforts.  
    • $5 billion for emergency Housing Choice Vouchers
    • $100 million to support struggling unassisted households living in USDA-subsidized properties.
    • $750 million to support the Indian Housing Block Grant program and the Indian Community Development Block Grant programs.
    • $100 million in funding for NeighborWorks to support housing counseling services.
  • $5 billion for Homelessness Funding.
  • $10 Homeowner Assistance Funding.
  • $10 billion for the State Small Business Credit Initiative.
  • $15 billion to Support Workers in the Airline Industry.

You will note that the CDC eviction order is not here. Since there is no federal revenue impact by extending the order, we believe it cannot be included in a budget reconciliation bill, though someone could attempt to argue otherwise. Realistically, any extension will have to be done through executive action or negotiated agreement with Republicans on the COVID package. Based on body language amongst Congressional leaders and the President, it is safe to say that the former is much more likely than the latter.

The other House and Senate Committees will be doing the same work as House Financial Services in the next two weeks. Federal unemployment benefits expire on March 14 and Senate and House leadership say they want a COVID bill passed by late February to early March to ensure there is no gap in support.  

Second, on the ERAP program, linked is a letter from our real estate coalition to the Administration outlining what we see as priorities for the new guidance the department will issue to support deployment of the $25 billion ERAP program. This is based upon feedback from the field about previous COVID rental assistance programs and, in part, as a direct response to efforts by the activist community to essentially rewrite the program through regulation.

Third, attached is a letter from our real estate coalition focused on the CDC order itself, specifically the letter restates our contention that the Order should not be extended and rebuts claims by the activist community that the order is full of “loopholes” and that large portions of it should be stripped out in order to establish an “automatic and universal” eviction ban. We got word on Friday that there will be an opportunity for all of our organizations to weigh in directly with key staff working on the CDC order as soon as this week.

That is all from the policy side of things. I recommend to you this article from the New York Times on the limits of eviction moratoriums and the segment of renters living under information arrangements. Worth your time.

 

Thanks, as always, for what you do. If you have feedback to share or questions for me, please reach out.

 

Have a good week.

Gregory Scott Brown

Senior Vice President, Government Affairs
National Apartment Association